(WFXR) — For the rest of the week, towns, cities, and counties around southwest and central Virginia are celebrating the men and women who serve as 911 dispatchers, the unseen heroes of public safety.
According to the City of Roanoke, Congress proclaimed the second week of April as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in 1991.
Thirty years later, telecommunicators, dispatchers, and communications operators across the country not only answer hundreds of thousands of calls placed to 911 centers, but they also use phones, radios, and computers to offer support to law enforcement, firefighters, EMS workers, and other government field personnel.
Even though National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week runs from Sunday, April 11 through Saturday, April 17, numerous police departments, sheriff’s offices, fire departments, and rescue squads across the region have already posted celebratory and supportive messages for their dispatchers.
Members of the Monelison Volunteer Fire Department say they appreciate their Amherst County dispatchers every day, but they give dispatchers — both in Amherst County and around the country — extra recognition during National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, calling them the unseen heroes and the first voice in the dark.
“We appreciate the long hours you put in to serve our Community,” the Amherst Fire Department said, “being our life line and being the unseen heroes of Public Safety.”
“This week we show our gratitude to our dispatchers that serve us daily,” the Appomattox County Rescue Squad posted on Monday, April 12. “We are grateful for all that they do for us!”
According to the Appomattox Volunteer Fire Department, “Our dispatchers are one of the most crucial and vital segments of the services we provide to the community.”
“We are sending a shout out to our amazing telecommunicators at the Bedford County 911 Communications Center in celebration of #TelecommunicatorsWeek,” the Bedford Fire Department posted on Facebook on Monday, April 12. “They are the first point of contact and lifeline for our firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and the community. They are the calm during the storm and for that we are grateful.”
Meanwhile, the Bedford 911 Communications Center celebrated National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week by awarding a few of their communications officers on Wednesday, April 14 for their outstanding performance during 2020.
According to the Bland County Sheriff’s Office, “Our Bland County 911 Dispatchers are among the best in the nation… We want to honor and thank them for the excellent job they do.”
“Shouting, Happy National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, to our county telecommunications center,” the Bland County Volunteer Fire Department posted on Facebook on Tuesday, April 13. “We thank you for all you do!”
Members of the Botetourt County Department of Fire and EMS expressed their gratitude for their dispatchers and their service to the Botetourt County community.
The Campbell County Department of Public and Employee Relations sees National Public Safety Telecommunicators week as a time to commend dispatchers for their long hours and demanding work for the good of the community.
“Consistently, our Campbell County Department of Public Safety E-911 dispatchers answer calls for service, relay important details to responders, and help people just when they need it the most,” the Campbell County Department of Public and Employee Relations wrote on Facebook on Monday, April 12. “We both honor and respect them for their continued dedication and commitment to Campbell County’s public safety.”
If a Campbell County dispatcher has had a significant impact on your life, you are encouraged to send your comments to email@example.com to be shared on Friday, April 16.
“Thankful for the ‘1st first responders’…our dispatchers,” the Concord Rescue Squad wrote on Facebook. “We cannot do what we do with out them…they are always looking out for us!!”
The Pipers Gap Rescue Squad, Inc. wished the dispatchers at Twin County E-911 and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office a happy National Telecommunications Week, saying “Thank you for all that you do for everyone we are nothing without these courageous men and women behind the radio.”
The Hillsville Fire Department shared similar sentiments for the Twin County E911 and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office’s dispatchers who provide “the calm during the chaos.”
Meanwhile, Carroll County Sheriff Kevin Kemp also expressed his appreciation for the telecommunications officers at the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
“The CCSO could not operate and the serve citizens of Carroll County if it were not for these dedicated public servants,” Kemp said. “They are unsung heroes behind the scenes. Thank you all for your hard work, sacrifice and dedication in service for our community. God bless you all.”
The Danville Life Saving and First Aid Crew shared their appreciation for their telecommunicators for everything they do, day in and day out.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office posted a video Sunday morning honoring dispatchers both locally and nationwide.
In the words of Sheriff Overton, “E911 Dispatchers are most often the first contact our residents have with the Office of the Sheriff during an emergency. Emergencies require a prompt response from law enforcement and/or public safety. They do their jobs with professionalism, compassion and understanding, helping residents who are having one of the worst days of their lives. Join with me in thanking our fine E911 Dispatchers as we honor them for a job well done.”
“Though their services are often overlooked, they are the nucleus of our operation,” the Newport Volunteer Fire Department said of their dispatchers. “Our first responders and community owe them a debt of gratitude for the dedication and commitment they show everyday!”
“You may not think about them, you may not see them, you may never hear their unit number or remember their name.
But they will always remember you.
They will keep showing up for you.
They will always keep the line for you.
Happy National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week 2021Twin County E-911
Today we celebrate you 911…..our Heroes in Headsets!
Without them there is no link to getting the help that the community needs.
Thank you for being the Thin Gold line that holds us all together. Not everyone can do our job so the ones that can are pretty special!”
While the Independence Volunteer Rescue Squad extended their appreciation for all dispatchers for what they do, they shared some extra gratitude for their dispatchers at Twin County E-911, saying “You guys and gals are the best!”
“Today officially begins National Public Safety Telecommunications Week for 2021! This week we honor heroes in headsets and all the members of our work family who work behind the scenes to keep our community safe. In Halifax County, we are truly blessed to have some of the best in the business,” the Halifax County Rescue Squad posted on Facebook on Sunday. “They are the calming voice whom most never meet, the reassurance that help is on the way, and the unseen guide through some of the most difficult experiences of our lives. They do such an amazing job keeping our field responders and the general public safe, and we are so very lucky to have each of them. Enjoy your special week ladies & gentlemen!!!”
The Halifax Police Department and the South Boston Police Department also showed their gratitude for the Halifax County Emergency Communications Center. Halifax Police Chief Comer even delivered lunch to them on Tuesday, April 13.
In order to allow members of the Halifax County community to know who those unseen heroes in headsets are, Halifax County E911 posted the names of their 911 dispatchers on Facebook this week to thank them all for their hard work.
The Henry County Department of Public Safety says the Martinsville-Henry County 911 Center answered 135,734 calls for service last year, which averages to two calls per person in the Martinsville-Henry County area.
“We honor our awesome dispatchers for their dedication and commitment to our public, and to our law enforcement, fire, and EMS personnel!” the department wrote.
In the words of the Ridgeway District Volunteer Rescue Squad, Inc., “Our telecommunicators or ‘dispatchers’ are an invaluable part of our emergency response system. Our telecommunicators assist callers with emergency and non-emergency situations while providing critical information to law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel as they respond. This week provides an opportunity to honor these courageous professionals for their vital contribution to public safety. Our telecommunicators serve the community by helping citizens in need every day. While not always recognized, the critical role that these telecommunicators play in keeping the public and first responders safe is essential.”
In the words of the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, “It truly takes someone special to answer every call and stay calm during the crisis.”
In the words of the Lynchburg Police Department, “Our dispatchers are the voice of 911 for the City of Lynchburg. They are a group of dedicated and dependable individuals that pick up the phone to help citizens when they need it most. This week offers a much deserved thank you to them and all the hard work they do to help the Lynchburg Police Department partner and protect our city.”
The Lynchburg Fire Department joined in, saying “we want to salute all of the hardworking emergency dispatchers who play a vital role in keeping our community safe! They provide a life line to the citizens of Lynchburg and to our first responders. We appreciate everything you do.”
“The Martinsville Police Department would like to recognize and thank our behind-the-scenes-heroes during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. The dispatchers of the Martinsville – Henry County 911 Center are more than just a calm, reassuring voice at the other end of the phone,” the Martinsville Police Department said in a statement on Tuesday, April 13. “They are knowledgeable and highly trained individuals who answer calls for help, gather essential information, dispatch the appropriate assistance, and provide life-saving medical instructions. They often make the difference between life and death for a person in need. We ask that everyone joins us in saying thanks and wishing them a Happy National Telecommunicators Week!”
“One week each year is set aside to recognize the profession of The First First responders,” NRV 911 posted on Facebook Sunday. “This week will be dedicated to showing our appreciation for our staff at NRV911. Without them there is no link to getting the help that the community needs. NRV911 Thank you for being the Thin Gold line that holds us all together. Not everyone can do our job so the ones that can are pretty special. Enjoy the week Celebrating YOU.”
Meanwhile, the Riner Volunteer Rescue Squad shared some fun facts about New River Valley public safety telecommunicators. For example, the rescue squad says those public servants go through extensive six to 12 months of extensive training, become certified to provide life saving medical instructions while waiting on EMS to arrive, and perform countless “behind the scenes” tasks to ensure excellent public safety to the four police localities, five fire departments, and six rescue squads they service.
“We are blessed, fortunate, and proud of our friends and partners at NRV 911 for the service they provide to the county, community, and to our first responders in the field! They are the true first responders, as they are the first point of contact when tragedy strikes!” the Riner Volunteer Rescue Squad wrote. “To the Communications Officers at NRV 911, we thank you for always having our backs when our trucks roll out to answer the call and providing exceptional Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical Dispatching to our community!”
“Our dispatchers often go without recognition, but they are the backbone of our Public Safety team! They dispatch thousands of calls each year, they talk people through their worst days, and they keep all of us safe!” Montgomery County Emergency Services posted on Facebook on Monday. “We are incredibly proud here in Montgomery County to have some of the best dispatchers in the state! They are trained professionals, and they are a critical part of our first responder team!”
In addition, if you know a dispatcher or see one this week, you are encouraged to thank them for their efforts to keep the community safe 24/7.
“The entire Virginia Tech Police Department would like to celebrate all of the staff at NRV 911 whose tireless efforts help our community in crisis and in calm,” the Virginia Tech Police Department wrote on Facebook on Monday, April 12. “We are very grateful for your work that keeps us safe and helps us perform our mission. While we honor you this week, we strongly believe you all deserve thanks each and every day! Thanks for watching out for us!”
The Christiansburg Police Department showed a little extra love for the dispatchers at NRV 911 on Monday by sending them pizza for lunch, cupcakes for dessert, and even a thank-you card and custom blankets with the dispatchers’ unit numbers on them.
“This week we say thank you to those first 1st responders that are always on the call but never seen. The voice of that you hear when you call 911,” the Lovingston Volunteer Fire Department said in a Facebook post Sunday. “Nelson County Emergency Communications Center, THANK YOU for being our lifeline!! We appreciate you all! Thank each of you for the job you do!”
“It was with great honor that Roseland was able to celebrate the voices of the men and women of the Nelson County Communications Center this year for 911 Telecommunications week,” the Roseland Rescue Squad posted on Tuesday, April 13. “Without these highly trained individuals we as EMS wouldn’t know where you are or what your emergency may be. Not only do they protect the citizens but us as well.”
In honor of both National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week, Pittsylvania County Public Safety plans to feature some notable dispatchers and animal control officers throughout the week.
For example, Pittsylvania County Public Safety says 911 dispatcher Star Holley applied for the job to make a difference in people’s lives while also keeping law enforcement officers and fire and EMS providers safe.
According to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, “Our dispatchers not only do an amazing job of keeping up with the public’s calls for assistance, but they also do an amazing job of keeping up with all of of us…..and let me tell ya, that’s more than a full time job!”
Members of the Radford City Police Department shared their gratitude for their 911 dispatchers on Sunday, saying these dispatchers “serve as an integral link between the community and law enforcement, fire and EMS in our City.”
As National Telecommunicators Week winds down, we take time to reflect on the critical role dispatchers AKA our “heroes” play. These Men and Women are often forgotten in the shadows, except when you have an “Emergency” and “Dial 911.” They are the Voices of calm and reassurance, and that help is on the way.
Did you know our dispatch center received a total of 71,656 calls in 2020? Being that the world was in the middle of the biggest pandemic, the communications center remained busy.
Have you thanked at dispatcher today?!?Radford City Police Department
The City of Roanoke plans to recognize the dispatchers in the city’s E-911 Center — who handle more than 275,000 emergency and nonemergency calls every year, dispatching calls to police, fire, and EMS personnel to to meet the public’s needs both in emergencies and on a routine basis — with various forms of appreciation throughout the week.
While the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department has been sharing their love for their dispatchers all week, they — and the Roanoke Police Department, shared a video wishing the City of Roanoke E-911 Center a happy National Telecommunicators Week on Friday, April 16.
The City of Roanoke E-911 Center also thanked the Fraternal Order of Police for donating some small gifts as a show of appreciation for these hard-working dispatchers.
The Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department showed their appreciation for the communications officers at the Roanoke County E911 Center with goodie bags chock full of puns.
“You certainly know how to keep the PIECES together, and for that we think you are the BALM! We sincerely thank you for always going the EXTRA mile and think that you deserve a BREAK today! We know that there can be days that SUCK but DONUT worry, be happy! Your Fire and Rescue family loves you! Treat bags to be delivered soon!”Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department
“Our communications officers are often the first contact for you or your loved ones when you need assistance the most,” Roanoke County officials wrote on Facebook on Tuesday, April 13.
Even as National Telecommunicators Week comes reaches its penultimate day on Friday, April 16, Roanoke County officials ask that you “please remember that your 9-1-1 communications officers are on duty every day, all year long, ready to provide a calm voice and send the help you need in your darkest hours. Roanoke County E9-1-1 Center dispatchers serve as the ‘thin gold line’ connecting you with our emergency responders and police, and are probably the most important people you will never see.”
Members of the South River Volunteer Fire Department voiced their gratitude for the Rockbridge County and Augusta County dispatchers, saying “You are the first voice when there is an emergency. The often heard, rarely seen, and under paid voice that is committed to saving lives! Your hard work, long hours, and commitment, is very appreciated!”
According to the Salem Police Department, “The past year has been an extremely difficult with many challenges brought because of the pandemic. Each of the Salem dispatchers has gone above and beyond to ensure the City of Salem had 911 service without complaint. We thank you for a job well done and for your commitment to service.”
“This week we take a moment and honor the unsung heroes that are on the true front lines of our emergency operations. The dedicated men and women who answer our calls for help,” the Salem Fire and EMS Department posted on Facebook on Wednesday, April 14. “We are blessed to have some of the finest telecommunicators in the business. We are honored to work beside you everyday and we could not do our jobs without you. Thank You!!!”
The Wytheville Police Department thanked all the staff members at the Wythe County 911 Emergency Operations Center for the exceptional job they do on a daily and nightly basis.
“They are rarely seen, but always heard and appreciated,” the Wytheville Police Department said. “They are the calm voice in the dark, the heroes behind the scenes, the golden link that holds us all together.”